Editor’s note: Our first post by David TGG! Welcome aboard David!
I think I can speak for all sci-fi nerd gun enthusiasts here and say that regardless of practicality, we’ve all been dreaming of the day where we’d have an ammo counter for our firearms (Alan’s note: I want the rifle from Aliens, damnit!). Almost every other field besides the firearms industry has seen an explosion in digital technological advancements, but why do firearms have to be the exception? I understand many are worried about the reliability of incorporating digital gadgets into firearms, but just look at how reliant we are on technology in our day to day lives. We have electronics in our vehicles, we depend on GPS systems, and many can’t imagine even leaving the house without their smart-phone.
The “smart gun” controversy seems to have hammered the final nail on any argument favoring exploring the integration of digital technology with firearms but with the RadeTec AR-15 ammo counter, I think many people will start thinking twice. I would know, I’m one of the skeptics who is very excited to see what the future holds for the firearms industry if it incorporates digital technology.
Modern Day SciFi:
The Ammo counter is pretty slick: It consists of a wrap-around device that fits around your magwell to detect the ammo left in your magazine. Inside your magazine is a new follower
that contains a magnet – that is how it detects the round count.
The second part is the digital display that mounts to a side rail. This unit hows your your round count numerically. So damn cool!
The two units are actually wirelessly networked together. What’s really wild is that since it is a standard network connection, the manufacture has already said they could do things like link to Google Glass. Please excuse my drool.
The RadeTec AR-15 ammo counter is pretty simple and straightforward. The grip panel comes in two halves and is installed on the magwell of your AR-15 rifle with hex screws (make sure to insert the proper battery into the grip panel before installing). The packaging comes with spacers for proper fitting for the grip panel depending on the type of receiver you own. Once installed onto your magwell, insert the battery into the separate LED display viewer then place it in a mounting ring and onto your forend’s picatinny rail. Disassemble your GI magazine by removing the bottom floor plate and spring. Replace the magazine follower with the included RadeTec magazine follower and reassemble.
It’s really that simple. The device comes calibrated from the factory but if for whatever reason you need to re-calibrate it, go to the range since you need live fire for the calibration.
To calibrate for “shot detection”, insert one round into the magazine, insert said magazine into your rifle and chamber the round. Fire your weapon safely down the range then push and hold the button on the grip panel until a green indicator light appears on the viewer. Now load your magazine with 14 rounds, insert magazine into your weapon, and chamber a round. Push and hold the button on your grip panel until the green indicator light appears on the viewer. Shoot all 14 rounds and the green indicator light should come on again on the viewer if calibration was successful.
The RadeTec ammo counter delivers on its promise. It works as intended and I encountered no issues with it. I’m genuinely excited about this product, but I have several concerns over compatibility issues. First of all, the included magazine follower is only compatible with standard GI magazines. On the
RadeTec website, the online manual claims the follower is also compatible with the Lancer L5 magazine as well. It’s a little confusing considering RadeTec’s online store shows that extra followers for purchase are only compatible with GI mags. Huh. I would highly suggest RadeTec create a follower compatible with Magpul PMAGs since they have a huge hold on the market.
Another concern I have is with the grip sleeve fitting properly. On my AR-15, I had a Midwest Industries Gen-1 SS free float forend and it caused issues with the grip sleeve aligning properly due to the protruding barrel nut tab. The ammo counter works fine with the classic polymer AR15 handguard, the Magpul MOE line of handguards, and some select forends if there are no protruding sections of the forend near the barrel nut.
Also, the indicator button on the grip sleeve gets in the way of my Magpul battery assist device. That’s also something to consider for those who run B.A.D. Levers.
Despite those compatibility issues, I think this ammo counter has a lot of potential. The grip panel is a little bulky but I imagine future versions could be sleeker, slimmer, and more compatible with different types of forends. I wasn’t sold on the ruggedness of the separate LED viewer, but after the recent news that someone had hacked an Eotech, I have great hopes that someone will figure out a way to connect the ammo counter to a hacked optic. Just imagine the possibilities! GPS information, tilt, weather, wind speed, elevation, temperature, ammo count… the innovations are endless!
In practicality, the RadeTec ammo counter has little use to military or law enforcement units. The only group I can imagine finding use of keeping track of their round count would be competition shooters. Even for self defense, it’s not often where people under dynamic, stressful, tense, and sudden situations would be too worried about expending their entire rifle magazine.
Still, practical or not, this is a niche market (beyond competition shooters) that would go perfect towards sci fi enthusiasts who would love to have a project fun toy smart gun complete with fingerprint scanner, ammo counter, maybe even voice activation options haha! Bluetooth or wifi connected gadgets, glowing light panels… it makes my inner geek quite giddy. In fact, our company jefe has gotten bit by curiosity and is thinking about connecting the ammo counter unit to a hacked red dot sight via bluetooth module… stay tuned.